Calling all conservatives! Attention please, all you reactionaries and nostalgia-merchants, and anyone who thinks the past knocks spots off the present. This is the season of exam results, when the papers are full of happy backlit pictures of girls in summer dresses receiving the news of their Stakhanovite performances at A-level and GCSE.
This is the week when dyspeptic Right-wing columnists and politicians traditionally denounce these scenes as a sham, when lovely hard-working teenagers run crying from the room because some miserable old git has told them that an A-grade these days isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.
The question before us is whether or not humans are capable of stunning improvements in individual and collective performance.
When Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954, he was thought to be a prodigy. Now, more than a thousand men have pulled off the same feat.
If our physical faculties are capable of such rapid improvement, surely the same applies to our brains. Faster, higher, stronger. Why not cleverer?